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Mol Cancer Ther. 2010 May;9(5):1234-43. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0834. Epub 2010 May 4.

Schweinfurthin A selectively inhibits proliferation and Rho signaling in glioma and neurofibromatosis type 1 tumor cells in a NF1-GRD-dependent manner.

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National Cancer Institute-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland, USA.


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common genetic disease affecting the nervous system. Patients typically develop many tumors over their lifetime, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. The NF1 gene, mutated in NF1, is also commonly mutated in sporadic glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Because both NF1 and GBM are currently incurable, new therapeutic approaches are clearly needed. Natural products represent an opportunity to develop new therapies, as they have been evolutionarily selected to play targeted roles in organisms. Schweinfurthin A is a prenylated stilbene natural product that has previously shown specific inhibitory activity against brain and hematopoietic tumor lines. We show that patient-derived GBM and NF1 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) lines, as well as tumor lines derived from the Nf1-/+;Trp53-/+ (NPcis) mouse model of astrocytoma and MPNST are highly sensitive to inhibition by schweinfurthin A and its synthetic analogs. In contrast, primary mouse astrocytes are resistant to the growth inhibitory effects of schweinfurthin A, suggesting that schweinfurthin A may act specifically on tumor cells. Stable transfection of the GTPase-activating protein related domain of Nf1 into Nf1-/-;Trp53-/- astrocytoma cells confers resistance to schweinfurthin A. In addition, the profound effect of schweinfurthin A on dynamic reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton led us to discover that schweinfurthin A inhibits growth factor-stimulated Rho signaling. In summary, we have identified a class of small molecules that specifically inhibit growth of cells from both central and peripheral nervous system tumors and seem to act on NF1-deficient cells through cytoskeletal reorganization correlating to changes in Rho signaling.

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